Tomorrow’s Minneapolis Star Tribune includes an editorial that is wacky, even by the Strib’s standards. The paper denounces Senator Norm Coleman for conducting hearings into the U.N.’s oil-for-food scandal, and writing in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that Kofi Annan should resign. The Strib’s vitriol is striking, even by its standards:
Good old Norm; it appears there’s nothing he won’t do for a headline, or for his GOP masters. Minnesota’s junior senator made quite a splash this week with his call for the resignation of U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, a splendid public servant….
The ostensible reason for seeking Annan’s resignation? It was on his watch that Saddam Hussein diverted billions from the U.N.-run oil-for-food program designed to relieve the humanitarian burden on Iraqis suffering as a consequence of U.N. sanctions.
Note that no one has the slightest whiff of proof that Annan knew about, condoned or profited from this scandal. Furthermore, when the scandal surfaced, Annan appointed former Fed chairman and man of impeccable honor Paul Volcker to thoroughly investigate the matter.
The Star’s knowledge of the relevant “proof” is, of course, limited. The editorial fails to mention that Kofi’s son Kojo received tens of thousands of dollars in payments from the chief firm that the U.N. paid to inspect “humanitarian” shipments, and then–along with the U.N.–lied about the money. Not to mention that a significant chunk of the stolen $21 billion, a figure never mentioned by the Strib, went to officials and journalists in France, Russia and China, all members of the Security Council. So Kofi could have been corrupt, or he could have been incompetent. Either way, it is hardly out of line to suggest that his tenure should come to an end. Needless to say, the Strib offers no support for its claim that Annan is a “splendid public servant.”
But the Strib isn’t really interested in the U.N. or Kofi Annan. As usual, its bete noir is us–conservatives in general, and conservative bloggers in particular:
Readers also should know that this isn’t a new issue, and it has very little to do with the oil-for-food program. For months before the election, the right-wing constellation of blogs and talk radio was alive with incendiary rhetoric about Annan and the oil-for-food scandal, not to mention accusations that the mainstream media were soft-peddling it to protect Annan. This is really all about Annan’s refusal to toe the Bush line on Iraq and the administration’s generally unilateral approach to foreign affairs. The right-wingers hate Annan and saw in the food-for-oil program a possible chink in his armor. They went after it with a venomous fury. Coleman seems only too eager to aid their cause.
Translation: If the conservatives are against Annan, we’re for him.
The Strib concludes with an attack on the only target it cares about, the Bush administration:
if Coleman wants to investigate scandal, he need not go as far afield as the United Nations. He could start with those really nice contracts that Vice President Dick Cheney’s former firm, Halliburton, got in Iraq. He could move on to the abuses at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Just this week, for instance, came accusations from the International Red Cross that treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo amounted to torture. Then the Washington Post reported a secret memo from a Pentagon investigator, written before the Abu Ghraib scandal hit the front pages, that warned the brass of widespread abuses.
In the Strib’s view, there is only one kind of “scandal”–that is, scandal that brings Republicans, or the U.S. military, into disrepute. Nothing else need be inquired into. I haven’t had time tonight to search the Strib’s archives for its editorials on Abu Ghraib, but I’ll lay a wager. I’ll bet that the Strib didn’t say that “no one has the slightest whiff of proof that [Don Rumsfeld] knew about, condoned or profited from this scandal.” I’ll bet he didn’t call Rumsfeld a “splendid public servant,” either.
Here is the Strib’s conclusion:
There is so much from the last four years that Coleman could find to keep himself busy. Just about every aspect of the Iraq misadventure smells to the high heavens. But of course investigating those things would be unpleasant for those Coleman so fawningly seeks to please. What an embarrassment.
The “embarrassment,” of course, is not Norm Coleman, one of the brightest political stars of his generation. The embarrassment is the Star Tribune’s editorial board.